- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 21, 2009


The number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance decreased last week by 12,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Unemployed workers filed 631,000 state claims in the week ending May 16, compared to the previous week’s revised number of 643,000.

However, the number of continuing claims increased last week to 6.66 million, a record high for 16 straight weeks and 75,000 more than the preceding week’s revised number of 6.59 million.

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The U.S. unemployment rate is now 8.9 percent. The number of unemployed U.S. workers was 13.7 million in April, according to the federal government.

The states with the highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending May 2 were Oregon, 7.4 percent; Michigan, 6.9 percent; and Puerto Rico, 6.6 percent.

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending May 9 were in Michigan, 16,817; North Carolina, 3,783; and Virginia, 2,871.

Michigan and Virginia said the increases were related to Iayoffs in the automobile industry. North Carolina said they were the result of layoffs in the industries of furniture, lumber-wood and transportation equipment.

The recession that has resulted in record unemployment and job losses began in December 2007.

Among the states with at least 1,000 fewer claims were California, 10,052; Wisconsin, 1,691; and Kansas, 1,415.

California cited fewer layoffs in the service industry, while Wisconsin cited fewer in construction, and Kansas cited fewer in the service and real estate industries.

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